Money Ain’t A Thing Baby We Can Buy It All

As the displaced-person totals from the fighting in Pakistan’s Swat Valley rise, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wants to up the totals for U.S. relief aid, according to this just-released statement:

“The humanitarian crisis in Swat gets worse every day, which is why it’s so critical that the government of Pakistan and the Obama Administration undertake immediate joint relief operations modeled on our successful efforts following the 2005 Kashmir earthquake. The United States must commit military assets, such as Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, combat engineers and uniformed medical personnel, that the Pakistani government needs to facilitate these efforts without further delay. When terrorist groups such as Jamaat-ud Dawa are reportedly already operating relief camps in Swat, there is no basis for turning back the far more capable assistance of the United States military.

“The statistics underscore the emergency: between two and three million civilians have been displaced and have little or no access to adequate shelter, food or medical care. In a few weeks, the summer monsoons will turn ramshackle camps into fetid swamps, incubators for a host of preventable epidemics. History has already taught us that poorly-resourced refugee communities are prime breeding grounds for extremist movements; the Taliban itself had its genesis in the Afghan refugee community driven into Pakistan during the 1980s and 1990s. We don’t need to repeat that disaster when instead we can show America’s true commitment to the Pakistani people.”

So speaking of public diplomacy, it’s often said that public diplomacy is a poor substitute for good policy, and there’s truth to that, although they don’t need to be defined in opposition to each other. (Gen. David Petraeus tells a story about how, at the start of the surge, visiting dignitaries would tell him he had a public-diplomacy problem; he rejoindered that he had a results problem.) The U.S.’s efforts at helping the people of the Swat Valley — and if you haven’t texted "swat" to make your $5 contribution, hit up 20222 — might be better promoted, especially as bin Laden’s making it a central aspect of his latest propaganda tape.

Crossposted to The Streak.

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Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman